Tuesday, September 28, 2010
It just serves to reinforce something we already know.
Chase, Ami and Zeneda are three fairly recent recipients of HeliOS Project computers, ages 12, 13 and 11 respectively.
When we go into a home to give a child a computer, one of the first things we do is explain to them that we have installed Linux on their computer, not Windows.
This announcement is usually met with even stares or shrugs.
They don't care...they are just jacked that they are finally entering into the tech age at home.
Most times, any concern expressed is with the parent.
Of course it would be.
Their minds are locked into doing things one way. We often address this concern quickly. Once we boot the computer, the machine becomes the realm of the child and aside from parental controls, the machine belongs to the child. We explain that explicitly.
If the child had any qualms about what Linux is, they evaporate once we start the computer and click the Applications menu.
Our custom distro (made possible by Uck) is a playground completely filled with learning opportunities. Many of the applications were taken from the Uberstudent distro, but most of them are standard Linux educational apps available from the regular repositories. The 1.7 gig ISO file produces a live cd/install disk that not only provides hours of entertainment, it includes educational software that meets most any academic need the child will encounter. Most of our kids however are at the age where they like to play simple games. We've provided an abundant environment for that.
Once the kid sees and understands the opportunities available to her, any questions or concerns about this not being Windows evaporates.
ZynAddSufFX. This is an open source synthesizer that absolutely competes, and in some cases outshines commercial offerings costing hundreds of dollars.
We also include some planetary and space exploration software. Through user comments and interviews, we've found that Stellarium is the best program to offer our star-watching kids.
No installation would be complete without a way to teach our kids typing. Knowledge of the keyboard is becoming increasingly important so we give them several programs to choose from, including some excellent. online teaching tools. Parents come to realize the importance of these educational programs quickly.
However, we've had our speed bumps. Recently we gave a student entering his first year of college a Dell D610 laptop. The next week, the father called us and asked if we would install Windows on his son's computer. He stated that the small community college "required" Windows for the coursework.
Of course, after contacting the school, we finally drilled down to a two man IT staff that both sported MCSE certs and considered Linux a "hobby" for geeks.
We pick out battles now...a small junior college in South Texas just isn't worth the effort. Now the Texas Workforce Commission is. Stay tooned for that battle may be played out publicly here...probably near the end of October.
So yeah, we occasionally run into people who have re-installed Windows. We refuse to do it for them even if they supply the legitimate copy of Windows. Many of them have called to ask for help with virus or malware infections. We simply tell them that if they had left Linux on their child's computer, we would not be having this discussion.
We have yet to discover a situation where the child wanted Windows installed. To this point, it has always been the parent or guardian. I tell every parent that if Windows is installed on the computer, we will not support it further. Sometimes they forget that part of the visit. We remind them of it and politely point them to Microsoft.com.
Fortunately, we've only encountered this 8 times in the last year. We've installed 276 computers in that time frame.
One theme we've found to reoccur is that when our kids do have to sit down in front of a Windows machine, they complain about how "hard" it is do do things in Windows. I find that mildly amusing myself, but then again, I would.
Ami could have done the simple thing and opened the assignment and then saved it as a doc file.
But she didn't...
She sent her Aunt the link to OpenOffice with installation instructions for Windows.
Geez, I love the audacity of children.
One thing I would like to mention...your support for our HeliOS Project store is beginning to help us greatly in meeting the needs of the project. Thanks to your purchases, we no longer have to postpone installs and trips to the shop because we don't have the fuel to do so. This link will take you into our electronic wonderland.
Thanks a bunch.
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 1:21 PM